Lake Regional Health System is pleased to recognize Paul Harris, R.N., for 20 years of service, including 13 years as the organization's emergency preparedness coordinator. Harris has commuted from Rocheport, Missouri, throughout his tenure at Lake Regional and soon will leave to accept a job in Columbia.
"During his tenure, Paul not only met the needs of Lake Regional Health System's emergency preparedness program, but he also served as an integral part of emergency preparedness for our local community and our regional hospital cooperative efforts," said Tom Williams, Lake Regional vice president of Employee and Community Development. "We thank Paul for his service to Lake Regional and for his close work with our local police and fire departments and EMS."
Harris' community involvement included serving as the Lake Regional representative on the Local Emergency Planning Commission, Lake Area Emergency Services Association training committee and the Region F Healthcare Coalition.
"The preparation and training we do to ensure readiness for large-scale health crises is ongoing and mostly behind the scenes," Harris said. "The general public does not see the arrangements we have made with other community response partners to protect and meet the needs of our community during a disaster, but we continuously work together to train and prepare."
One important resource Harris helped secure was a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) trailer, obtained through a Missouri Hospital Association grant. The trailer is outfitted with worldwide satellite communication capability and contains medical response equipment for 100 people. Harris was responsible for having the trailer present and ready in case of a mass emergency at many of our region's major community events, including the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival, Eldon Turkey Festival and the Lake of the Ozarks Invitational Powerboat Race. Harris also worked directly with the planners of these community events to develop and maintain event-specific emergency plans.
Harris also has been involved in several major disaster response efforts, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and many others. He served as logistics chief for recovery efforts in Joplin, Missouri, following the EF5 tornado in 2011.
"Because Lake Regional Administration allowed me to serve in these times of crisis, I gained real-world experience that has helped me create realistic plans for responding to local disasters," Harris said.
In 2014, Harris was recognized with a Lake Regional Health System Beacon Award. He was commended for his strong sense of duty and accountability to the public. "Paul has connected with our community on many levels," said a peer who nominated him. "His true passion is emergency preparedness, and he is genuinely concerned with preparing for any disaster. He has reached out to many of our local public agencies."
Harris and his wife, Paige, have been married for 34 years and have two sons. They often visit Arkansas, where they enjoy the peacefulness of the Ozark mountains and trout fishing. Harris will work at Stephens College in Columbia, serving as director of Clinical Education in the Physician Assistant Studies program.
Before leaving Lake Regional, Harris is training his successor, Steve Dougan. Dougan has worked at Lake Regional Health System for 15 in engineering and has more than 20 years of volunteer experience in emergency response. He is a founding member of the Osage Beach Search and Rescue team and has been the group's captain for 15 years. He also served with the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2005 to 2010 and responded to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and to Parkersburg, Iowa, following an EF5 tornado in 2008, which developed into a flooding disaster. He also responded with Osage Beach Search and Rescue to Joplin in 2011.
"I applied for the emergency preparedness coordinator position because I saw it as an opportunity to do more with my passion for emergency services," Dougan said. "I've known Paul for a long time, and I respect and admire the work he has done building strong relationships between community response partners. I look forward to continuing that good work in our community."
Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to the residents and visitors of the lake region. The hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and is a three-time recipient of the Missouri Quality Award. Lake Regional Health System also operates primary care clinics, walk-in clinics, specialty and rehab therapy clinics, retail pharmacies, and home health and hospice services throughout the lake area.